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by: Bernard Teo

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Fri 24 Sep 2004

The ASP Model and why Java will set you free

Category : Technology/JavaWillSetYouFree.txt

I found this in Jonathan Schwartz's Weblog :

"... what Google, eBay and are proving are the economics of using someone else's uniformly standardized infrastructure to run your business. Sun's business, historically, has been the opposite - we deliver infrastructure to customers who work with us to customize that infrastructure to unique workloads. What and others prove is that there are some workloads for which the reverse can be true - mapping the workload, like salesforce automation, to a singular service provider with a common infrastructure, yields savings from economies of scale that vastly outweigh any potential expense in changing workflows/workloads. The ASP (application service provider) model is, in fact, a great model."

If you put aside the excesses of the bust, the ASP model is indeed a great model. There is something powerful in there in that concept.

I was working on helping my friend set up his hostel. It felt fun to pull in all the technologies that we've been working on, tie them together, and see if we end up with something a whole lot greater than the sum of its parts.

And I've learnt a few things in the process.

For one, the web-based way is a whole lot more fun and easier to support. For example, if we had only the Cocoa-based version of our accounting system (Luca) to work on, we would have had to send updated versions to each user each time the system changes. And what do you do if the user is on a PC? Having Luca running on the web solved these problems in one fell swoop. And we just update things on the server.

Also, while the new iMac looks like it'll make a great Point-Of-Sale terminal, we're having problems getting receipt printers and touch screen vendors willing to work with us to help make their gear gell on the Mac. Having the system work on the web means we can treat the POS terminal as a black box. Get rid of the stress; chuck a PC in there until we can make the Mac work.

And, getting back to what Jonathan Schwartz was talking about, I don't much care to have to feed my own server farm. If I have money coming in for these services, I would be very happy to divert some of these to guys who would be willing to manage those servers and the other issues relating to maintaining uptime, quality of service, responsiveness, back-ups, security, etc...

We're running Java. We pack everything into our WAR (web archive) file and send it over to wherever the servers are (Siberia - "to keep cooling/real estate costs low - no offense to our friends in Siberia"), and whatever they run on (Tomcat, JBoss, WebLogic, Linux, Solaris, OS X, whatever).

Truly, Java (and the web) will set you free.

And there's another angle to this. While the Mac's still our favourite computing platform (and there's nothing else I would rather use), Apple as a company still doesn't really "get it" when it comes to enterprise computing (though there are individuals who are making a great effort to turn things around). This could have become frustrating but, while we're on Java, there are other resources we can tap on.

Microsoft's great strength is their ability and willingness to take enterprise developers under their wing and help them soar (I think System Access in Singapore is one good example). Sun is vastly limited in terms of resources, by comparison, but they have a similar understanding of what it takes to keep their platform relevant in the enterprise space.

So, for someone like me who is not willing to build a business on top of .Net, a marriage between Sun and Apple would be one made in heaven. But I'm sure that's not going to happen. In the meantime, while we're on Java, we can still do enterprise-level work - and move around in that space - and still keep our Macs. And that's good enough for me.

Posted at 9:25AM UTC | permalink

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